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Congressman Ken Buck ’81 does not deserve PICS interns

<h5>U.S. Rep. Ken Buck ’81.</h5>
<h6>United States Congress / Wikimedia Commons</h6>
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck ’81.
United States Congress / Wikimedia Commons

The following is a guest contribution and reflects the authors views alone. For information on how to submit to the Opinion Section, click here.

At Princeton, we’re fortunate to have an abundance of school-sponsored internships, especially those geared toward public service. Princeton’s culture tends to push students toward jobs in finance, consulting, or tech, so programs like the Pace Center’s Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) are especially valuable. The program places students in summer jobs geared toward community engagement and public service, including congressional internships. However, for all the good that PICS does for our career trajectories, one internship option does quite the opposite: a placement with the office of Congressman Ken Buck ’81, who represents Colorado’s fourth District. 

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Whether Pace or Princeton knows it, this placement is a statement that serving in Congressman Buck’s office amounts to valuable public service. At the very least, it implies that Buck and his politics are within the window of acceptable discourse.

In reality, Buck’s policy positions are dangerous, and are enough to disqualify him from PICS. He is fervently anti-abortion, including in cases of rape and incest, an especially harmful position following the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. He supports the radical conservative interpretation of the Second Amendment which prevents Congress from passing any meaningful gun control legislation. On LGBTQ+ rights, his record is also extremely worrying: he opposes gay marriage and the anti-discrimination Equality Act. He once compared forcing Christian doctors to treat gay patients to forcing Jewish doctors to treat Nazi patients, a bizarre and offensive analogy, and compared being gay to disorders such as alcoholism. He also opposes healthcare reform, opting instead to let the private health insurance market continue to bankrupt Americans or leave them without care, and supports mass deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Perhaps most worrying is Congressman Buck’s support of the movement to undermine democracy. He contributed to efforts to delegitimize the 2020 election by signing on to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit to prevent certification of the results and he questioned get out the vote efforts as fraudulent.

Congressman Buck’s politics are beyond the pale, and Princeton ought to stop offering internships in his office. The PICS internship is a signal to Princeton students that despite the University’s claims that it cares about abortion rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQ+ rights, or democracy, it is also perfectly comfortable sending its students to work for representatives who undermine and oppose those projects. Some may object to this stance by pointing out that Buck is far from the most radical Republican in Congress these days — that he’s no Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.), for example. However, the fact that Buck might be considered a moderate is a sad reflection of just how far gone the Republican Party is. Princeton and its students have a role to play in opposing the Republicans’ authoritarian, theocratic agenda, one propped up by other alumni like Senator Ted Cruz ’92 (R-Texas) and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ’72. The way to stop producing alumni like this is to show current Princeton students that their politics do not represent our values, and for us to not support politicians like Buck with our time and talent. 

Ben Gelman is a senior from Houston, Texas concentrating in Politics. He can be reached at bgelman@princeton.edu.  

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